Deadlands: The Early Years


Y’all can’t see this yet. Sorry.

The Crazy Kay
Denver Tradin'

I’m workin’ on it…


…jus’ shut it, eh?

Denver Fears

It ain’t ready yet. Stop hasslin’ me, dammit!

Denver Schoolin'

In development. Pease stand by.

Denver Complications

As I intend for this journal to be more of a check to my own faliable memory, rather than a narrative intended to be enjoyed (read, laughed at) by some other cowpoke on down the road. Because of this, I don’t often talk about stuff what I think is obvious.

I’m a cowpoke from Nolan County, Texas, so I don’t talk about the trails, dust, the Comanches, chuck-wagon chili, beeves, or hosses, except in a general way. Ask any cowpoke from anywhere about those sorts of things, an’ they’ll tell you just about the same things, just not mebbe the same way. I expect the sheep-punchers back in King David’s day would have had about the same to say, too.

Still and all, sometimes the obvious bears writin’ down, too. When Chuck – that is to say, Professor Charles Sullivan from jolly ol’ England – was privy to my so-called ‘expertise’ with hosses, he was ‘pleasantly surprised’. Really? The cow-puncher is good with hosses. Well, if that don’t just beat all! Hell, I wonder if he knows the Padre is pretty conversant with the Good Book!

In all fairness, while this city boy probably wouldn’a known a stallion from a mule, his heart seems in the right place. He’s out here in the open air, not testin’ rich people’s flatulence for lack of smell (or worse), so that’s a step in the right direction.

Y’see, though, the reason I brung all this up isn’t to laugh at a tinhorn on paper (I can do that anytime), but to put forth the idea that sometimes it takes a statement so simple, so … naive … as to be from the mind of a child to bring about a profound change in one’s point of view.

The Prof and I were walkin’ back from the Broken Kay’s shingle when he dropped the ‘pleasant surprise’ about my ‘expertise’ turn of phrase on me. While I was tryin’ not to cry from wantin’ to laugh so hard, I realized that I really had no reason to laugh. I mean, here was someone I didn’t really know payin’ me a kind word, and lookin’ and talkin’ like he does, he’d probalbly been taken by less kind folks a time or two on his way West.

It was in that moment that I stood thunderstruck that I ceased to be ‘just’ a cowpoke who got really lost on his way to an extremely big payday, and became a sorta travlin’ hoss trainer. I mean, if I’d not woken up right then, when the Prof offered me a job makin’ sure his yearling grew up right while he continued on to wherever this place he was goin’ was, I’d have laughed in his face.

Hey – money is money, sure, but a few dollars a week steady is nothin’ compared to the pay-day of a month-long drove. I may not wear fancy duds or keep little widgets an’ such, but takin’ care of at least one ornery young hoss for and indeterminate period at quarter pay (or less) than what I could make workin’ the droves did not mathematically add up.

It didn’t matter. Of course I said yes. For one thing, could you imagine the Brothers Boom tryin’ to take care of those poor beasts alone? Hell, they’dve given her nitro pills or summat to make her run faster, then explode. If I din’t take a swing at it, I’d always wonder if the real reason I got jobs back home was ‘cause I was ’the Padre’s boy’, or if I was made of somethin’ better.

Anyone standin’ there in the street probl’y coulda figgred all that out just by lookin’ at me. I don’t really care. There was another reason I signed on, one nobody but me could know, ‘cause it was all in my head: For one New Yawk Minute, I was that slack-jawed tinhorn, standin’ there without clue one, an’ the Prof, God Bless him, din’ even notice. I owe him at least that much respect.

Denver Excursions

Once I’d had enough sleep to gather back together my wits, I headed into the Grand Hotel to have breakfast with our band. The Denver didn’t offer one, an’ I wasn’t of a mind to go looking for a place that sold meals. Besides, Prof was flush, and he was buyin’.

We didn’t talk all that much about plans for the future that mornin’, as most of the folk were tryin’ to work out how they were goin’ to spend the next few days. The Padre told us all that he was goin’ to look in on how the flock was bein’ tended here, and near-everyone else talked about what errands they were going to care for now that we were here.

My next destination was to the shingle of the Broken Kay here in town. It turned out that the friendly boys there had a passel of good horse-flesh, an’ I was well and truly impressed with thier operation.

After I’d had a word or two with the boys and then the hosses themselves, I settled upon a youngish mare named Bethesda. She was one of four they’d had what were used to beeves, an’ seemed the healthiest of those.

From there I was headed back to the Grand, which had the only publically available stable in town. On my way I ran into the Prof, who seemed perplexed at the idea that I’d gotten a hoss, and he, Bethesda, an’ I went back to the Broken Kay Horse an’ Tack.

The Prof wanted a hoss for hisself and his brother-in-law. Money was no object, he’d said, but the problem I percieved was that he’d need a really placid hoss for Dietrich. The ferriner (thanks to his European habits) often smelled like a schnappes-dipped saddle-tramp what had been dead three days. I tried to get the tinhorn a fair deal, which garnered the hands some amusement. Everyone went away happy, though. They got the price for two eager young mustangs, and we got a yearling ’stang and a tough old beast which seemed oblivious to all but God and oats.

Arrival: Denver, Colorado

As one might imagine, there was a great deal of talk as we rounded into the Front Range at the feet of the Rocky Mountains. For my part, I passed into unconscious sleep somewhere about the time Prof. Chuck was talking about some place or group called ‘the Collegium’ which was supposed not to be far from Denver or another nearby city, Boulder.

In the dim light of the early evening, the smoke and light that signaled a settlement on the horizon was especially welcome. It had been an alacritous journey, but there was as much wear in the swift miles travelled as if we’d travelled on foot.

A page has been physically removed from this point in the journal.

Actually, I’d like to spare a few words for the surprising effectiveness of the Hellstromme Industries invention. The amount of distance we travelled – nine hundred miles – in about nine days is good to fair time for any professional stage company with a system of fresh hosses every forty miles or so. It’s fair to poor in comparison even to rail travel!

We’d been given a full month to make the trip, and had used less than a third of that time. If one discounted the time we spent dallying about, added the Boom Brothers’ lanterns from the beginning of the journey, and used a team of drovers rather than just the one, I’d estimate we could have made the trip in about four days! As a man that’s spent alot of his days on the back of a hoss, I have to say I’m impressed.

These are some of the same words I wrote in my (somewhat abridged) accounting of our travels given in payment as previously discussed for the travel to Denver. The still-unnamed United States Marshal asked me to amend certain events as well as the mention of thier presence – for national security reasons, of course.

Well, as I did not want a gun pointed in my belly, and not wantin’ to scare off anybody anyhow, I wrote things a little differently than I might have otherwise. You’ll find no lies in this account (or my statement to Hellstromme Industries, for that matter) save for the ones of omission.

The real cost of the journey, I can’t imagine. I have no idea what one of these auto-engines costs to build or maintain, but it must be a damn sight more than a hoss. There’s also the human cost to consider. Bruce and Benny were dead, after all, and I imagine John-Boy will be doin’ some drinkin’ to forget for some time to come.

So. Denver.

When I arrove in town with the rest of our ‘posse’ what would now hold together on account of greed (Yes, me too!) rather than collected travel, I was compelled by the gentlemen from Hellstromme Industries to doctate or write about my experiences.
Write I did, with the considerations listed above in mind, and thanked the smiling gentlemen for the ‘unique opportunity’.

To my surprise, I was not one of the first to be done with my report. Several of the others were done first, and only the Belle and the Boom Brothers took longer than I did to finish writin’ what all they had to say.

Wit (who’d finished early) reported that the Platte River ferries that ran up to and through the Missouri would be leaving in almost a week, which left the lot of us with far too much time on our hands.

Most of the Posse then spent far too much money checking into the Grand Hotel and goin’ about thier errands. For my part, I went to the Denver Hotel to secure lodgings before attending to various errands (bath, shave and haircut, new clothes (but no Stetsons for sale!), Church, breakfast, a telegraph message home, getting the news of the world at large, etc.) I also endeavored to find a fresher copy of the Tombstone Epitaph than Mr. Rawlins had given me, but to no avail.


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